Contrary to popular belief, seniors need just as much sleep as younger adults in order to wake up feeling well rested and refreshed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, seniors need approximately seven to eight hours of sleep, even though they tend to go to bed earlier and rise earlier. Unfortunately, insomnia tends to affect adults 60 and older often. This can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, and it means you may feel more tired and sleepy throughout the day.
The good news is there are several steps you can take to ensure you get plenty of shut-eye. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Consider the following seven ways to get a good night’s sleep.
1. Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule
Your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural clock, is a 24-hour sleep cycle that is continuously running in the background in your brain. It determines your on-going cycles of sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. To keep this rhythm in check, it’s important to stick to a regular bedtime schedule. Go to bed each night and get up at the same time, even on weekends.
2. Eliminate Naps During the Day
If you sleep during the day, you may not be as tired at night. This can cause interruptions in your sleep and make it harder to fall asleep.
3. Find Ways to Unwind
Approximately an hour before bedtime, turn off all electronics and find something quiet to focus on. Read a book or listen to music. Do anything that helps you relax. You can also take a warm bath. The instant drop in your body temperature when you get out of the tub may help you feel tired.
4. Avoid Fluids Before Bed
Frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night can cause interruptions in sleep. Avoid drinking water or tea right before bed, which could be waking you up.
5. Create a Sleep-Only Zone
You may be tempted to watch TV or relax in bed throughout the day. Instead, choose your sofa or a comfortable chair in another room. Designate your bedroom as a sleep-only space.
6. Get Plenty of Exercise
If your doctor approves exercise, get out and take a walk during the day or sign up for yoga or other exercise classes. Regular exercise, when performed no later than three hours before bedtime, can help make you more tired and make it easier to go to sleep. At Bethesda Gardens in Fort Worth, we offer several exercise programs to choose from.
7. Stay Away From Caffeine and Alcohol
Alcohol, even in small amounts, and caffeine has been shown to make it harder to stay asleep. If you must have a glass, try to do it earlier in the day.
If your own attempts at falling asleep and staying asleep are unsuccessful, you can always speak to your physician for additional advice or talk to a member of our medical management team, who can help find a plan that works best for you.